Few years ago it was unknown for women working on the shop floor of a Steel Plant doing tasks that were the monopoly of men.

The scenario, however, has changed now for the women employees of the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) with more and more women employees voluntarily opting to take up challenging roles of Frontline Operations.

With the launching of RSP’s project ‘Veerangana’, women employees are being motivated to take up challenging tasks.

The Personnel Department initiated the project by identifying suitable women employees and zeroed in on crane operation as the first job for them, RSP said in a statement.

For launchig this novel idea, a new state-of-the-art plate mill provided the right ambience.

Next step was to identify a suitable trainer for them, who not only had the expertise in crane operation but more had the will and patience to teach the nuances to these neophytes, it said.

Krutartha Nayak, Senior Operator (Cranes), Plate Mill who took up the job, says, These girls are like my daughters and I will make sure that they become competent enough to match any man in terms of skill and expertise.

Special safety training was imparted to the women.

Some of them had to be counselled and convinced to wear suitable dresses instead of saris which could prove to be a safety hazard. Safety overcoat were also provided to them.

Subsequently, the identified women employees started successfully operating the cranes independently.

Pritilata Karar, ACT (trainee) has today earned the distinction of becoming the first woman crane operator in RSP.

The other three women employees who have been trained in crane operation are Sonam Tiwari, SSW (trainee), Babita Parida, SSW (trainee) and Lata Pati, SSW (trainee) presently deployed in Plate Mill, the statement said.

After undergoing structured on-the-job training, many other women employees have now started independently handling pulpit operating positions like Dividing Shear Operation, Double Side Trimming Shear operation, Piler operation, which were traditionally earmarked for men.

Sumitra Badaik, OCT (trainee) has become the first lady pulpit operator at New Plate Mill of RSP. Bharati Tanty, OCT (trainee), Mamta Patra, OCT (trainee), Rajni Kindo, OCT (trainee) and Pushpshila Kumari, OCT (trainee) have become the torchbearers in learning the nuances of operating Double Side Trimming Shear, Piler and Automatic Plate Marking Machine.

Many other departments have also come forward to carry forward this wave of women empowerment, it said.

Today Damayanti Tanty, Senior SSW, Mechanical Shop is operating the Drilling Machine in her Shop while Archana Sahu, OCT(Trainee), SMS-II is picking up the nuances of operation of Basic Oxygen Furnace in the BOF Control Room.

And thus were born the ‘Veeranganas’, ushering in a new era in terms of work culture, thereby scripting history at RSP, it said.

Another heartening aspect is the attitude of the male colleagues extending their whole-hearted support and encouraging the women without any resentment about their arena being infringed upon by their female counterparts, it said.